Chantilly-based firm aims to take a bite out of cybersecurity concerns

January 1, 2012

Thomas Heath is away, but we still found some things of interest to pass on until he returns.

When Jeremy Farber launched his company 10 years ago under the name Miami Computers, the moniker was a bit of a misnomer. After all, its headquarters was actually in upstate New York.

Today, the Chantilly-based firm is called PC Recycler but even that name isn’t a perfect fit. Farber’s company doesn’t just discard old electronics, it first wipes their data and shreds them into confetti.

“A couple of our big customers early on were big government contractors and they loved us, but they were really interested in information security,” Farber said. “It was a very big priority to them, more so than the environmental aspect of it.”

The latest tool in that effort is a $100,000 machine that allows the firm to destroy equipment faster through a process called degaussing. Essentially the magnetic field that allows a device to store data is eliminated, and the data is taken along with it.

There’s no shortage of devices to demolish as cybersecurity concerns continue to trouble government and commercial entities alike, Farber said. Though most security efforts are aimed at a device that’s in use, he said the risks don’t necessarily end once it’s unplugged.

“Because a lot of the attacks come over the Net it gets a lot of publicity, but there are just as many breaches that happen through physical loss,” he said. “A lot of people don’t understand that the information is just as accessible once the device is offline.”

— Steven Overly

Friendship Heights says goodbye to Pottery Barn

Pottery Barn has been added to the growing list of merchants vacating Friendship Heights. The home furnishings store notified customers last week that its location at Chevy Chase Pavilion will close on Jan. 16., making it the third retailer in the area, after Borders and Filene’s Basement, to turn off the lights in the past 12 months.

Officials at Williams-Sonoma, which owns Pottery Barn and West Elm, were not available for comment. No other Pottery Barn stores are slated to close, according Williams-Sonoma’s most recent regulatory filings. Pottery Barn, with 7 percent increase in revenues in the third quarter, has been leading the company’s sales growth.

The home furnishing store has locations in Clarendon, Tysons Corner and White Flint. The store at the Pavilion, located at 5335 Wisconsin Ave. NW, occupies two floors. It’s unclear whether Akridge Real Estate Services, which owns the nine-story complex, has another tenant lined up for the space, since the company did not return calls for comment.

— Danielle Douglas

New York Ave. developers duel for tenants

 When Lowe’s, the home improvement chain, pulled out of plans to anchor a development in Baltimore in October, it prompted concerns that the chain also would opt against opening a store on New York Avenue in a planned development in Northeast Washington where Wal-Mart also has agreed to open a new location.

Both projects have the same developer, Rick Walker, and Walker had long pitched the plan of building the Wal-Mart store on top of a home improvement big box on New York Avenue at the corner of Bladensburg Road, just as he planned to build a Wal-Mart store above a Lowe’s in Baltimore.

Walker is no longer marketing his New York Avenue project, called the Pointe at Arbor Place, as having a home improvement store. He says he is juggling his tenant mix and is attempting to attract a national pet supplies chain to his project. Wal-Mart says it is still committed to the site.

Lowe’s still appears to be coming to New York Avenue, however, but to the Shops at Dakota Crossing, a development planned down the road by Fort Lincoln and Trammell Crow Co. That project recently lost a commitment from Target but now has a commitment from Lowe’s, according to a person familiar with the deal. Hagans declined to discuss Lowe’s but said the development team recently inked a deal with TD Bank to finance construction. A Lowe’s spokeswoman declined to comment.

— Jonathan O’Connell

Booz bias

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ inspector general said in a report released last month that the agency showed a potential bias toward incumbent Booz Allen Hamilton, the McLean-based contractor, in its acquisition of support services for its information security and privacy programs.

The acquisition, which was awarded in late September 2010, favored Booz Allen by making knowledge of VA procedures and practices a significant selection factor without making clear in the solicitation it would be important. Though Booz Allen’s proposal cost the most, its knowledge and experience helped it win the decision, said the IG memo, which was first reported by NextGov.

The VA’s acquisition office generally disagreed with the inspector general’s findings.

In a statement, Booz Allen said the report “was not directly focused on actions by Booz Allens itself, and we have no comment on its conclusions.”

— Marjorie Censer

Honors for pro-bono work

Malika Levarlet, a Washington-based associate at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, is getting kudos for being the first lawyer at the firm’s D.C. outpost to take on a political asylum case through the human rights nonprofit Human Rights First.

The firm awarded Levarlet, a corporate lawyer and American University law alumna, its Pro Bono Attorney of the Year award, an annual honor recognizing attorneys’ community service work.

Levarlet worked closely with a woman who was forced to flee her native Cameroon after advocating for transparent elections and equal access to health care for prisoners to gain political asylum in the United States. Her efforts helped Sheppard Mullin nab the Frankel Award from Human Rights First, which goes to law firms taking on asylum cases on behalf of clients from dozens of countries.

— Catherine Ho

Thomas Heath is a local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and various companies big and small in the Washington Metropolitan area. Previously, he wrote about the business of sports for The Post’s sports section for most of a decade.
Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Business